AUGUST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE REMAINS STEADY FOR STRAIGHT THIRD MONTH
For the third straight month, the number of unemployed U.S. citizens remained unchanged holding at 4.9% in August 2016, missing overall market expectations of 4.8%.
Since January 2016, the unemployment rate plateaued at 5.0% in March and April of 2016, falling to as low as 4.7% in May with a gradual increase to 4.9% in June 2016 where it has remained. Although the numbers seem low, the Labor Force Participation Rate reports only 62.8% of American adults are currently employed; a participation rate which has not been this low since the 1970’s when fewer women worked outside the home.
The current participation rate is being impacted by retiring Baby Boomers along with more high school graduates choosing to further their education rather than enter the workforce.
Another significant factor impacting the participation rate centers around the number of Americans who have given up the idea of finding a job. Earlier in the year it was reported, of the nearly 2.9 million unemployed Americans desired a job, yet were not actively seeking one.
Should Fashion Modeling be Classified Under H-1B Visa Category?
U.S. immigration reform is a hot topic going into the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
To no one’s surprise, there’s a huge policy gap between democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and top republican candidate Donald Trump.
Clinton supports the current H-1B visa program, going as far as wanting to grant F-1 visa graduates who earn an advanced STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) degree an automatic green card.
However, Trump has expressed his opposition to the visa program believing U.S. companies are simply taking advantage of cheap labor. According to GOP front-runner, American jobs should only go to American workers. If elected, Trump has declared he would seriously consider putting an end to the H-1B visa program.
Of course, many media outlets have reported on Trump’s use of the H-1B visa program in the past. When confronted about it, Trump admitted using the program yet believed he should not have been allowed to, maintaining his stance on ending it.
The H-1B visa issue has also raised questions as to whether Trump’s wife, Melina, modeling work visa was legit. There have been speculations Melina violated visa rules when during her employment as a fashion model for Trump’s fashion agency during the 1990’s. However, Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, was quick to respond to allegations stating Melina followed all applicable laws and is now a proud citizen of the United States.
As a result of Melina’s questionable work visa, other questions have been raised as to whether foreign national fashion models should be eligible for H-1B visas.
What is an H-1B3 Visa?
The H1B3 visa is a subcategory of the H-1B visa classification.It’s reserved for non immigrant aliens who work in the United States on a temporary basis as fashion models.
Once they’re approved for an H-1B3 visa, the beneficiary is granted a three year stay which can be extended to six as long as a Labor Certification Petition (FORM I-140] is submitted and approved, or an employment adjustment of status was filed at least 365 days prior to the end of their initial three-year term.
Less Education Required with More Earning Potential
A portion of the debate centers around lenient qualifications fashion models must meet verses every other profession petitioning for an H-1B visas.
The H-1B visa is reserved for immigrants in highly-skilled professions such as technology, engineering, and science. Therefore, critics believe H-1B visas granted to fashion models would be better served if they were granted to professions which require higher levels of knowledge and skillsets.
Except for the modeling profession, in order for immigrants to qualify for an H-1B visa they must have – at the very least- a Bachelor’s Degree. Many other professions require advanced degrees such as a Master’s or Doctorate.
Fashion models are not required to have a college degree. In fact, they’re not even required to have a high school degree. Plus, international models granted H-1B3 visas, on average, are likely to earn more than American fashion models at the same professional level.
Therefore, not only are technology professionals object to including fashion models into the H-1B visa category, American models also feel unfairly treated in terms of compensation.
How did fashion models become grouped with H-1B Visa category?
It started approximately 20 years ago when Congress attempted to create a separate category of visa for celebrity occupations which included athletes, performers, and religious workers.
Unfortunately, lawmakers failed to include fashion models into this category. At the time, lawmakers could not agree as to how to categorize fashion modeling. Therefore, the fashion profession was placed under the H-1B umbrella.
In 2007, former New York democratic congressman Anthony Weiner attempted to pass a bill granting 1,000 visas to immigrants in the fashion modeling industry. Unfortunately, the bill stalled in the Senate and was never passed (much of which resulted from Weiner’s resignation following inappropriate conduct).
In that same year, the Judiciary Committee believed losing models could have a negative impact on the U.S. based on researched conducted by the Booking Institution, which indicated that in New York alone one in 20 workers took part in the fashion industry generating approximately $10 million in wages.
Eventually the U.S. Congress will have to revisit this issue in an effort to determine exactly what is the overall impact the fashion industry has on the 65,000 H-1B visa cap and should the profession be categorized under a different heading?
H-1B3 Application Process
U.S. employers are required to submit a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
The LCA ensures the U.S. employer understands and complies with specific labor requirements including:
- The employer will pay the H-1B3 fashion model a wage no less than the wage paid to similarly qualified U.S. workers or, if greater, the prevailing wage for their position in the geographic area in which they work.
- The employer will provide suitable working conditions which will not adversely affect other similarly employed workers. For example, the employer cannot hire foreign nationals as a result of U.S. employees on strike or due to a lockout.
- Notice of filing of labor condition application with the DOL was given to the union bargaining representative or was posted at the place of business.
- The employer will also need to file a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker form [FORM I-129] with the United States Citizenship of Immigration Services (USCIS).
If the foreign immigrant is outside of the United States, they must apply with the U.S. Department of State at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad for an H-1B visa, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for admission into the United States, regardless of whether a visa is required.
A Fashion Model of Distinguished Merit and Ability
In addition to the Labor Condition Application and Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, U.S. employers must also submit documentation which references the H-1B3 beneficiary’s qualifications. Evidence submitted must show the foreign immigrant is of national or international acclaim.
- Evidence can include, but not limited to:
- Services performed as a fashion model for employers with distinguished reputations.
- Distinguished events or productions the beneficiary has taken part.
- Recognition for significant achievements received from prominent organizations, reputable critics, high-profile fashion houses, established modeling agencies, or other recognized experts in the field.
- National or international recognition in magazines, newspapers, trade journals, or other reputable publications.
- Evidence the H-1B3 beneficiary has commanded a high salary or other legal forms of substantial payment for their modeling services, documented on contracts or other reliable resources.
- Evidence which showcases the services to be performed require a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability.
Written contract or summary of oral agreement
Copies of written contracts between the petitioner and the H1B3 fashion model or, if no written agreement exists, a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the beneficiary will be employed.
H-1B3 holders are also allowed to bring their spouses and dependents into the country.
All spouses and dependents will be granted an H4 visa which allows them temporary residency within the United States however does not allow them to work in the United States.